Friday, October 18, 2013

Santa Barbara Wine Country: Dierberg And Star Lane Vineyards

Santa Barbara County offers so many great areas for exploring wine, but I am drawn over and over to Highway 246 west of Buellton.  My most recent stop at the Dierberg/Star Lane tasting room revealed some outdoor tables which indicate they are expecting plenty of visitors.  That's not surprising, considering the quality of the wines they make.

Dierberg is in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, while the Star Lane vineyards are in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, in the eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley.  They pour both at the tasting room.  is it worth a visit?  The last time I was here, there was a gentleman tasting with me who was in Los Angeles for a seminar.  He bailed on his final meetings to drive up for a swig and buy a few cases.  The tasting cost $10

Star Lane Sauvignon Blanc Happy Canyon 2011  $22
Estate grown grapes, a grassy nose with tropical fruit and oranges.  Fresh, vibrant palate with tropical fruit and a great acidity level, belied by the very mellow mouthfeel.  Fermented 100% in steel, on the lees.  Excellent.

Dierberg Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley  $32
Estate grownfruit, oak fermented - 1/3 Hungarian, 2/3 French, 1/3 new - on the lees.  The nose shows smoky pears, while palate deals with similar fruit in a creamy context.

Dierberg Drum Canyon Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2010  $44
Estate grown and locked away for 16 months in new French oak.  The nose of red fruit and smoky coffee notes lead to a nice, light palate of spice and raspberry - not too tart, not too sweet.  Not an over-the-top California Pinot - the alcohol is a restrained 13% abv.  Excellent.

Dierberg Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2009  $44
My server called this estate grown wine the "James Bond of Pinot - elegant and complicated."  The nose displays spicy dark fruit, while raspberry and strawberry appear on the palate. Great acidity.  A little more alcohol, but still light on its feet and dancing.

Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Happy Canyon 2008  $44
Estate grown, 18 months in oak, four years bottle aged.  Really interesting nose of spicy tobacco and incense.   Easy drinking Cab, with lots of spices and a great finish.

Star Lane Estate, Happy Canyon 2007  $44
All six of the varieties they produce in Happy Canyon are used in this wine.  54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.  The nose is full of big red fruit, with huge fruit and floral perfume on the palate.  Great acidity.

Star Lane Astral 2006  $80
A extra poured by my server, this top-shelf wine is made from 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc and 19% Petit Verdot.  It has the nose of a dessert wine, showing dried grapes. Nice spices and beautiful fruit on the palate. Very smooth.

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